View the article online at http://citywire.co.uk/money/article/a710603
Mark Barnett: I’m more flexible than Woodford
Barnett reveals how he will tackle the biggest job in fund management in an exclusive interview with Citywire.
Mark Barnett faces an immense challenge. The Citywire AA-rated fund manager (pictured above) has been thrust into the limelight after Invesco Perpetual announced that he would take over the funds run by Neil Woodford, Britain's best known fund manager who is leaving to set up his own firm.
Barnett, who at 43 is 10 years Woodford’s junior, is not daunted by being thrust into the limelight and taking on the task in hand. ‘I’m very excited by the opportunity and the challenge. It’s a big promotion for me and I accept everyone is going to be watching me now, but I’m not going to behave differently,' he told Citywire.
In Barnett’s favour is the fact that he has worked alongside Woodford for almost two decades. ‘I’ve worked for the team for 17 years, I’ve sat next to him and had privileged access to him, so I’m in an unique position to preserve and build on his track record,’ he says.
In this time Barnett says he has learned a number of key things from Woodford and draws on two key lessons. ‘Neil has taught me how to be objective and about the need to be patient, take a long term view and cut out the noise so you can focus on what’s valuable within a business.
‘[He has] also taught me that the best interaction with companies is always done behind closed doors, around the meeting room table.’
What makes Barnett different
Barnett’s performance in recent years suggests he has paid close attention to his mentor.
In the last five years Barnett has returned 93.8% on his Invesco Perpetual UK Strategic fund versus a peer group average of 74.9%, earning him a Citywire AA-rating and outstripping A-rated Woodford’s aggregated return of 72.3% over the same period.
Part of this outperformance was due to a higher exposure to mid-caps and while Barnett says there are plenty of similarities between his and Woodford’s styles, there are also one or two differences. ‘Neil takes a stock view on how it translates to his macro view. While I do this to a certain extent I take a more pragmatic view at the stock level,' Barnett explains.
‘I’m prepared to buy stocks which might not marry my economic view on the basis the market may re-rate that stock. Neil applied his macro view very rigorously and I’ve always felt there’s a more flexible approach.’
While Barnett’s performance statistics are compelling, the sheer scale of Woodford’s assets under management could pose a problem.
Once again Barnett does not seem to be daunted by this. ‘My stance has been to approach markets in the long term, which I’ve always done on a gradual basis. I don’t anticipate having to change that style.'
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